I was talking to a guy today who represents a well-known para-church organisation. He was a very pleasant bloke and we had a long chat about all sorts of things to do with what it is to be a local church.
It came to the place where we were talking about the friendliness of church people at services and I related to him about times when I had visited other churches, had sat through the service and left without anyone speaking to me. It wasn’t like I arrived late and then took off quickly afterwards, cause that wasn’t the case. Nevertheless, I have to say that I was left with a feeling that in that place, no one cared.
Then I remembered a church in Tauranga. We were living there at the time as a young family with our two children. We decided to go and check out a Presbyterian Church as it happened, and at the door was an older gentleman who upon seeing us arrive instantly shot over, introduced himself and offered to help us find a place to sit (it was a busy church of about 600!). He took us to sit next to another family of similar age and then introduced us. More than that, with our permission, he gave our kids a lolly each! So apart from the preaching, and singing etc which we enjoyed, this one man’s welcome sealed the deal for us. It was later from that church that we went into full-time ministry training in Dunedin.
So, bearing in mind the passage from Corinthians that we’re going to look at today, never think that a warm smile and a welcome to new folks showing that you believe they’re valued, doesn’t matter. Actually it does. Sometimes it’s hard to ‘cross the room’ and start talking with someone you don’t know but it’s always worth it. Hospitality costs very little yet is one of the gifts of the Holy Spirit that everyone can have and all of us can put into practice.
Actually, that’s one of the many things I love about First Church. The people are warm and friendly and welcoming already, but please be encouraged. Continue on along this path and carry on living out one of the fundamentals of what it is to be a follower of Jesus Christ.